ESA Technology Transfer Success Story - Using space heritage to enhance next generation aircraft

ESA Technology Transfer Success Story - Using space heritage to enhance next generation aircraft [Dec/2021]

The bulkhead concept, which is part of the layers protecting satellites on Ariane 5 and 6, has generated a spin-off for aircraft by Airbus Defence & Space. Together with ESA’s Technology Transfer and Patent Office (TTPO) and CiTD, this technology transfer from launchers to airplanes generates high flight safety with significant socio-economic benefits for both companies involved.

Economic benefits for Airbus Defence & Space:

  • Replacing the old assembly process with one single part
  • Save mass (30% reduction)
  • Frees up volume
  • Simplifies supply chain
  • Reduces manufacturing time by several hours- Replaced labour intensive process
  • Enables fuel savings
  • Reduced complexity, enables automatization of manufacturing process/ serial production
  • Implementation is predicted to save seral million Euros for Airbus
  • Minimum 30% total cost savings (time and labour cost)- 60% in assembly labour hours

Economic benefits for CiTD:

  • Display of capabilities on a major project
  • Consequently, received interest by Boing, IAI, MBDA, and Terranova in the concepts and cooperation
  • Business model through the product by sales, licensing fee, engineering services, maintenance, and expertise for new project development
  • Set up for future success and creation of jobs in Spanish economy
  • Scalability of concept

Furthermore, continuous improvements could lead to an application of the concept to other areas with metallic structures of aircraft, like the rear pressure bulkhead, flat panels, or fuselage formation. The replacement or combination of these parts could foster further mass savings, volume increases, and improve part integration. Especially if properly scaled, the created volume could be utilized for cargo or a seating row. This again would translate into significant monetary gains for the companies (and ultimately airlines). Alternatively, the idea could be further modified to apply even for different families of aircraft to generate the same effects.

This initiative is led by ESA's Technology Transfer and Patent Management Unit (TTPO) in ESA's Directorate for Commercialisation, Industry & Procurement. The Unit is guiding start-ups, entrepreneurs and European businesses in developing spin-offs for ESA's space technologies. More recent successful transfers can be accessed at: Technology Transfer - Funded Projects. For more information, please contact

The full Case Study report can be found in the restricted area here (please log in before).

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